Chicago Tribune


By Ronald Koziol.

April 22, 1985

Former gambling kingpin Ken Eto, survivor of a gangland assassination attempt, is expected to set the stage Monday as the first witness when the President`s Commission on Organized Crime convenes in Chicago for a three-day inquiry into labor racketeering.

James Harmon, commission executive director, would not disclose names of witnesses Sunday. But he said "persons who have been inside the mob" will be among the 25 people testifying.

Another 35 underworld figures and labor officials who also were subpoenaed are considered hostile witnesses who are expected to exercise their 5th Amendment right against incriminating themselves.

Eto, according to sources, will tell of his association with Vincent Solano, head of Local 1 of the International Laborers Union, who also was subpoenaed. Solano has been identified in testimony before the Senate Permanent Investigation Subcommittee as a boss of Chicago`s underworld. Laborers Union activities in Chicago and New York and the union`s connections to organized crime will be explored in detail during the hearing, Harmon said.

The hearing will also focus on alleged mismanagement of union welfare funds, secret wiretaps in which mobsters discussed payoffs by union bosses and a list of underworld figures who "own" certain unions. "There will be things that have never been brought out before," Harmon said during a news conference Sunday. He said conditions are so bad in New York City that a building cannot be constructed without dealing with mob- controlled unions.

In an earlier statement, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Irving Kaufman of New York, chairman of the 19-member panel, said manipulation of union benefit funds is a classic example of how corruption can undermine the health and future of working men and women. Harmon acknowledged that law enforcement officials have been unable to control labor racketeering, but he said the commission is hopeful it can make legislative recommendations that can combat the problem.

The commission, created by President Reagan in July, 1982, goes out of existence next March.

Harmon said a small percentage of the nation`s labor unions are controlled by organized crime. A detailed staff study of all of these unions will be made public at a later date, he said.

Security at the Dirksen Federal Building is expected to be the most extensive in recent years. Visitors to the 25th-floor ceremonial courtroom where the hearings will be held will have to go through metal detectors and searches.

Copyright 1998, The Tribune Company.

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